Highlights courtesy of MLG Highlights
1. Despite a valiant comeback late the New Orleans Pelicans pulled out a tough win over the Portland Trail Blazers. The victory gave Anthony Davis his very first postseason win of his career as well as the first for the franchise under the Pelican moniker. Davis finished with 35 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocks to lead the effort. The Brow had 11 in the fourth to help fend off the surging Blazers. He absolutely shredded a normally solid defensively Portland team. There was just no answer for him. Portland doesn’t have a single player nearly good enough to stick with him and keeping fresh legs appear to not to work as well as they may have expected.
Although Davis undoubtedly set took control of the game Rajon Rondo clearly set the pace. Tying a postseason franchise high with 17 assists along with playing the best defense since he wore green we got a showing from “Playoff Rondo”. Speaking of defense Jrue Holliday has been sterling on that end and it will be a felony if he doesn’t get any All-Defensive team love. As per usual he was scary good on that end last night. He and Rondo was a large part of holding Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum to a combined 2 points in the first half. Read that last sentence again folks. Jrue was no slouch on the offensive end as well as he was the second leading scorer for the Pels as he dropped 21 points hitting half of his shots. Nikola “Threekola” Mirotic chipped in 16 points and 11 boards hitting four triples.
2. I hate to beat you over the head with it but y’all, this defense was incredible. The Pels held the Blazers to 38% from the floor and 31% from three. The key was starting off strong holding Portland to 17 first quarter points. Realizing that it’s not the most egalitarian offense (Blazers were dead last in assists this season) everyone knows that it starts and finishes with Dame. So they hounded him while others fought through screens and disrupted passing lanes. The aggressive philosophy paid off as it was apparent that Portland could not get into sync and didn’t really figure it out until it was too late. From top to bottom they were ravenous as they tallied 12 blocks and 8 steals as a team. By forcing them into a half court game New Orleans was able to control the pace of the game on both ends. Which is something that can cause major issues for Portland if it persists.
3. Too little too late. An abysmal first half proved too much to reconcile at the end but boy did they give it the good ol’ college try. Dame and CJ did recover to have decent second halves as they finished 19 and 18 respectively. Their 13 of 41 combined shooting was not only bad but it was almost a worst case scenario for the normally deadly duo but to be fair the others combining for 24 of 57 good for just 42% wasn’t setting the nets afire either. Ed Davis had a solid outing with 6 points to go with his 13 boards and Evan Turner put up 13 and played some solid D. However Jusef Nurkic posted quite possibly the least impactful double double ever finishing with 11 and 11 with 2 blocks. Not the worst night statistically but when you factor in him getting abused by Davis all night those numbers lose their luster quick. Bottom line, Portland needs all of these guys to show up.
Once Dame and CJ got it going you could see what makes them such a deadly force even when battling back from as far back as 19 but against a team playing as well as the
Pels it’s going to take much more than fourth quarter heroics to pull this one out.